Wednesday, February 24, 2010

wonderful world wednesdays: dr. david benke of deer creek school

this morning i want to recognize a local hero. i feel pretty strongly about the fact that teachers are heroes everyday. it takes a certain kind of patience, enthusiasm, dedication, and spirit to teach children. my mother is a teacher and a few of the most significant people in my life teach or have been teachers. it takes a servant heart to teach and i think it is one of the most difficult, yet lovely callings around.

this wednesday, february 24th, i want to acknowledge a teacher that exhibited a bravery and selflessness that should not go unacknowledged. yesterday a mentally ill man opened fire at deer creek middle school, which is located in my town. it is also located down the street from Columbine High School, which is the school at which one of the worst school shootings in our country's history happened. our county is located on the eastern slope and front range of the rocky mountains. it is a county that represents communities of extreme wealth and extreme poverty and currently has the fastest rising rate of childhood poverty in the nation. it is a demographically diverse and complex region.

the shooter entered the school property and asked students if they attended deer creek. when they answered that they did he began shooting. two students suffered gun shot wounds. one of them has been released, but the other is in critical condition. doctors are saying that he should make it. it is miraculous given the fire arm power and the nature of the situation that no one died. our community is up in arms and grieving today.

no other students were shot in large part because of the heroism of dr. david benke. dr. benke is a math teacher at the middle school and he tackled the shooter while he was reloading his weapon. he said that he did not really have time to think; he just did it. i believe that generally acts of bravery manifest in this way. we usually cannot plan the times where we are going to step up and be brave. such an act of selflessness wells up inside someone and just happens. in the face of this horrific and traumatic event i find a lot of hope in the fact that there are people who will sacrifice their own well being for the sake of others. it reminds me that we are all in community together. protecting others is noble.

keep the victims, the other students, and the shooter in your thoughts. the man who fired the shots is at trial already this morning. he has a history of deep mental illness and a history of being unable to secure the proper medication to treat his illness. what this man did is horrific, yet just as dr. benke protected the students and faculty of deer creek so might we be compelled to protect the mentally ill and their victims through securing proper long term treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.

so many, many thanks to you dr. benke. you are a hero everyday in your teaching and were especially significant in the lives of many students and teachers yesterday!

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